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Mission: Indonesia 2007

Dispatches

By GARY FALLESEN
Climbing For Christ president

  • READ THE FINAL REPORT ON THIS MISSION. CLICK HERE

 

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 (noon Eastern U.S. time)

 

Walter and I are back in the USA. We landed at JFK at about 10:30 a.m. after 23 hours, 52 minutes on the flight from Singapore to New York City. Thankful to the Lord for our safe return to the States; one more flight to reach our families, where we enjoyed a happy reunion.

 

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 (3 p.m. Kuala Lumpur time)

 

Walter and I have begun the long trip back to the States. We will be reflecting on this mission and praying about the people God has introduced us to in Indonesia and Malaysia, and praying for His direction in what we will do in the future in this part of the world. Our friends from JEJAK (Budi, Max, Rendy and Sandy) left with Heng Kai for Singapore last night. It was a fond farewell as they said we have inspired them in their service to our Lord. Max said it was not good-bye; we will meet again and serve together to further His kingdom.

Monday, June 25, 2007 (8:30 p.m. Kuala Lumpur time)

In Malaysia, Walter and I are free to worship Christ in a local church. But the Malay people cannot.

More than half of the 25 million people in this country — Muslim by birth and, according to cultural law, Muslim until death — are forbidden to accept Jesus.  This came to light during this weekend's Asia-Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference, when the word “Muslim” rarely was spoken. Only Rev. Raju of India and I openly discussed outreach to Muslims. Dr. Yap Heng Kai, the organizer of the conference and a member of Climbing For Christ from nearby Singapore, admitted that adventure ministry in Malaysia is aimed at the 40 or so percent of Malaysians who are Chinese, Indian or something else. “We can never touch these people,” he said of the Malays, “because there are consequences.“

The Malaysian constitution claims “freedom of religion,” but try taking that to court here. The court has Muslim judges. Six to seven percent of Malaysia is Christian. Perhaps 10,000-20,000 of the 13 million Malays have accepted Jesus and worship Him in the underground church. A sobering reminder that we have percecuted brothers and sisters in our midst and unreached people living all around us.

Sunday, June 24, 2007 (9:30 p.m. Kuala Lumpur time)

The first Asia-Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference ended and talk immediately turned to next year's conference — where, what, who? We finished the conference with discussion groups looking at beginning a ministry, refining a ministry, and evaluating a long-running ministry. I was the moderator for the long-running discussion, which covered how to handle burnout (or “crack-up” as Rev. Raju Bhagwat of India and currently Cambodia calls it), staying in tune with God's purpose for our ministry, and overcoming lethargy in the giving of time and finances. It was an interesting discussion between 18 participants with Raju, Ninan Jacob (Dean of Studies at Mueller College, Australia), and Major Francis (Salvation Army, Singapore) lending great advice from years of experience. Raju then made the closing keynote speech to the conference. “Adventure is a way of life,” he said by way of explaining how he was the grandson of a Hindu priest but accepted Christ and became a pastor in the Church of North India. Using adventure is yet another ministry tool for reaching those who do not know the Lord. We are only just beginning to learn how to do this. But as Raju said, “Disciples are life-long learners.” We have learned many things on this journey — from outreach to Muslims to the cultural differences between us and our Southeast Asian brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, June 23, 2007 (10 p.m. Kuala Lumpur time)

I was the opening speaker at the first Asia-Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference. I was charged with setting the tone for the conference, so I spoke on “The Church, Outdoors.” I shared that the church is not a building; we are the church (1 Corinthians 12:27). Wherever we go, wherever He sends us, that’s where the church is. We care called to take the church to the world. We do this through climbing and adventure. Outdoor ministry is in its infancy in this part of the world and I hope the story of Climbing For Christ — our purpose, vision, and the work we’ve been doing in 8 countries — helps inspire some among the 65 people attending the conference. Our desire: live Christ out loud!

Friday, June 22, 2007 (10 p.m. Kuala Lumpur time)

 

Walter and I flew to Malaysia today (Budi, Max and Rendy) and the youth pastor from Abbalove East (Sandy) traveled by plane, boat and bus to get to the inaugural Asia-Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Twenty-five members of the participating ministries met tonight for introductions and initial brainstorming for the Christian Leaders in Adventure Network (or CLAN). Ministries such as MAPS (Mentoring through Adventure Programmes Services in Singapore), NSA (Non-Stop Action in Malaysia), YFC (Youth For Christ in Singapore and Fiji), as well as ministries from Australia, Indonesia (JEJAK), and the United States (Climbing For Christ) were represented.

 

Major Francis of the Salvation Army opened the conference in prayer and spoke about Mark 4, the parable of the sower.  That is what these outdoor and adventure ministries are — sowers of the eternal seed. “He told them, 'The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you...'” - Mark 4:11. It is our responsibility to spread it. We are blessed to be among the 60 or so participants from seven countries attending the conference this weekend, and being a part of the beginning of CLAN.

 

Thursday, June 21, 2007 (11:30 p.m. Jakarta time)

 

Each of the JEJAK members took a turn talking about what our visit meant to them during a touching send-off gathering tonight at the Abbalove East church. We were blessed by our time here and by relationships that began the past eight days and will stretch into eternity.

 

Max Christopher Tilukay, who joined Climbing For Christ in June 2005 and made the connection that helped lead to this Evangelic Expedition in God's time two years later, stated correctly to his fellow members: “Let’s go more. Let God lead us.” Max was the first JEJAK’er to join; now there are 24 in our midst — and prayerfully more to come.

 

Those who spoke talked about focus, a fire being set ablaze here to reach the many, many lost, and learning so much over this past week. “You have a heart for (reaching lost) souls,” Lambok said. “I have a heart for souls. When I saw you, my heart for souls is now burning.”

 

We prepare now to go to Malaysia for the first Asia-Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference and pray that even more hearts will burn to reach the unreached in hard-to-reach places. Fill us, Father, with the passion to serve and a fire that cannot be extinguished. All to Your glory!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 (11:30 p.m. Jakarta time)

We traveled throughout the city — one of the world's most polluted places — on what is Jakarta's 480th birthday. This was a rest day, so to speak, as our time in Indonesia winds down. But we spent 10 hours on buses, mini-buses, taxis, and walking to the various corners of a city that never sleeps, sweeps, or seems to have any traffic laws. Tomorrow we will prepare for the conference in Malaysia (which starts Friday) and a send-off dinner with our brothers and sisters in JEJAK.

 

First Bible

A Muslim man in a West Java hill village reads from a Bible given him by members of Climbing For Christ's JEJAK team.

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 (11:30 p.m. local time)

 

Project: Sumedang is underway. Our new JEJAK Chapter has found work among the hardcore Muslim Sunda people near the West Java town of Sumedang. We enjoyed an exhilarating day of outreach among some villagers in Gunung Tilu. For a few of the JEJAK’ers this was an introduction to mission work. Others, like Lambok, who has the gift of evangelism, looked right at home in the mission field. Lambok is very quiet until you give him an opportunity to pray or share with a non-Christian; then he is full of the Holy Spirit and extremely expressive. He is a joy to watch in action.

 

The team shared and prayed with a Muslim family and was blessed to have the man of the household accept an Indonesian language New Testament that we’d brought with us. He immediately began reading aloud from Matthew – and didn’t want to stop. We left knowing that if this man accepts Christ as his Savior then the family (he has a wife and grown son) are likely to follow.

 

We walked the rice fields around Gunung Tilu and said hello and visited with many who were working. Some of them are radical Muslims. We did not proselytize to them, only tried to be friendly. Pastor Johan, who is excited about continuing the relationship that has begun with Climbing For Christ, said many in the rice fields want to be Christians but are afraid to admit this because it will mean being cast out from the community.

 

Sunda are considered one of the toughest people in Indonesia to reach with the Gospel message. But our team was encouraged by its first day in the field and looks forward to growing relationships and helping local Christians around Gunung Tilu as they reach out to their Muslim neighbors.

 

A good reminder for all – be it in Indonesia, the United States, or anywhere in the world – is found in the message from a member of the missions ministry Open Doors, who said: “How do you spell ISLAM? ... We must spell Islam as an acronym: It is I Sincerely Love All Muslims.” That’s because the God we serve loves all people, even those who do not yet know Him.

 

 

Gary and Mr. Dodo

Gary and Mr. Dodo. He said he wanted to make us “feel like family” and when they served us chicken nuggets for lunch on Tuesday we felt right at home.

Monday, June 18, 2007 (9 p.m. local time)

“I am very proud that God sent you here from so far away,” Dodo, a 65-year-old villager in Gunung Tilu, said several times in his home. “When I first became a believer, I felt very alone — no one would come to visit.”

This is common among Muslims who convert to Christianity. “When people accept Jesus, families and communities push them away,” Pastor Johan of Sumedang told us before leading us to the village on Tilu Mountain. “The military comes to their home and asks, 'Why did you choose Jesus?' If they stay with their faith, they are outcasts. Here in Sunda (West Java) one soul (for Christ) is hard to get.”

JEJAK made history today by starting its first mission here in West Java, where there are only 21,000 Christians among 32 million Sunda Muslims. Walter and I joined Budi, Max, Rendy, Iman, Lambok, James and Jasis on this team.

There are 24 Christians in Gunung Tilu. Tomorrow we hope to lead one more soul to Jesus.

 

JEJAK Chapter

Sunday, June 17, 2007 (8:30 p.m. Jakarta time)

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

We celebrated our love for the Father with our Indonesian brothers and sisters in Christ at two services today – the first at Abbalove East in the morning and the second at the church’s annual outdoor service about an hour’s drive outside Jakarta. We were introduced at the Abbalove East worship, which was attended by more than 250 members, and I spoke briefly about Climbing For Christ. Pastor Seno Widjaja, whose sermon was on “Change, Bear Fruit, and Multiply,” worked Climbing For Christ into his message several times. In talking about bearing fruit, he referred to John 15:16 (“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”). He then urged the congregation: “You must bear fruit. Go, bear fruit, and your fruit may multiply.” That’s why we’re here.

 

In the afternoon, we gave our testimonies and the story of how Climbing For Christ came to be to 190 people attending the “Community in Agape” worship at Pasir Mukti. It was at this park in West Java where the plan for the next few days changed. Rather than going trekking to Mount Gede Pangrango, where we learned we would encounter only other hikers, the JEJAK members suggested we target an unreached people group in West Java. They have begun to understand the mission and vision of Climbing For Christ. We will go on mission to the Muslim Sunda people in the area of Sumedang, West Java. Arrangements have been made with pastors in that area to help point us in the right direction with our Indo-American team of 10. JEJAK now has been welcomed into the Climbing For Christ fold as our first chapter outside the United States. Walter and I presented JEJAK with one of our ministry’s banners during the outdoor worship (photo above). It is an exciting time in Indonesia, where we are going and prayerfully bearing fruit.

 

 

Street ministry

Walter teaching English to Muslim children during street ministry in Jakarta.

 

Saturday, June 16, 2007 (8:30 p.m. Jakarta time)

 

“He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” – Matthew 10:14b-15 (NIV)

 

We spent several hours this afternoon with JEJAK members doing street ministry in two neighborhoods where poor Muslim families live. The families live in shacks along the river. This was where JEJAK members provided river rescue during flooding in February (CLICK HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page for the story “Flooding in Jakarta; Christians show God's love”). The kids are taught English, math and science, and sing songs and play games for three hours every Saturday. JEJAK volunteers cannot mention the name of Jesus, but show the children the love of Christ by their presence there every weekend. At the end of our time with the children, we handed out nearly 300 bags of goodies. They thanked us individually, in the traditional manner of shaking hands and holding our hand to their forehead.

 

Later, Max and Budi discussed with Walter and me the prospects of JEJAK becoming a Climbing For Christ chapter. They are eager to become a part of our mission focus and embark on Evangelic Expeditions to remote unreached people groups in Indonesia. For the last five years, they have been involved in outreach to Muslim children (praise God) – and now they wish to bless others in their very lost country. For starters, we hope to share the Good News with Sunda people when we go trekking on Monday in West Java. There are only 21,000 believers and just 50 churches among the 32 million Muslim Sunda, according to PJRN (the Indonesian National Research Network).

 

Preparation

Friday, June 15, 2007 (11:30 p.m. Jakarta time)

 

The noise filling the air from a nearby mosque did not drown the message of Christ being presented on the roof of a private home. Two men who had converted from Islam to Christianity and two young girls were being taught at a weekly cell group study. I was asked to speak after the lesson and shared how I came to know the Lord and how He is the center of my life as a missionary focused on delivering the Good News where it has not gone before. I then prayed for these four people in the infancy of their spiritual walk.

 

As we ate a dinner of Padang food together, the two men shared their stories. One was from Iran and when he accepted Christ, he was disowned by his family and lost his job. But he is unyielding in his faith. The other, a second generation Yemen-Indonesian, asked me to bless him as a missionary to Muslims – to help him bring them to the Truth that he discovered when he compared the Qur'an and the Bible.

 

This was the end of a day during which we again prayed for new believers and for Christians whose families are divided between Christ and Buddhism or Islam, shared the story of Climbing For Christ, and prepared for street ministry tomorrow. We went with the JEJAK group – Budi, Jasis, Imanuel, Lamdok, Anna, Ajeng, and David – to the traditional market to purchase goodies for 260 or so poor Muslim children whom JEJAK serves every Saturday. We bought little bottles of milk, wafers, biscuits, cheese sticks, and lollypops and the group made up 300 bags to be handed out tomorrow (photo above). We then prayed for the day, that hearts are being prepared, that the group would be protected, and that the love of Christ will be displayed through us.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2007 (11:30 p.m. Jakarta time)

 

We were hosted by JEJAK members at a greeting dinner at Abbalove East church. We had an opportunity to share about ourselves and Climbing For Christ. The 16 members (in a ministry that has 24 members) were very excited about the prospects of JEJAK becoming the first Climbing For Christ chapter outside the United States.

 

 

Gen B

Thursday, June 14, 2007 (5:50 p.m. Jakarta time)

 

We met with people from JEJAK’s church (Abbalove Center), including Pastor Jeff, who ministers to many Muslims, and Dany, who works in the missions department of the church. They have identified 127 unreached people groups in Indonesia. We discussed the church-planting going on and that which, by God’s grace, will occur in the years ahead. We also sampled Salak, a tropical fruit we’d never seen or heard of. There is much to learn and experience in a new place.

 

After visiting the church, we went to the Gen B sports ministry, which is affiliated with Abbalove and the Indonesia Sports Partnership. Paulus and Roy shared with us over lunch and coffee. I had an opportunity to give my testimony to a group of 13- and 14-year-olds in their youth soccer program (photo above).

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 (7:11 p.m. Jakarta time)

 

Walter and I arrived here after more than 35 hours of flying, including 26 hours on one plane from New York City to Singapore. Max and Budi were waiting at the airport for us, despite our late arrival caused by a missed connection when our plane sat on the runway at JFK for six hours late Monday night/early Tuesday morning. We spent the last few hours starting to get to know Max, Budi, Max’s brother David, and Imanuel – all JEJAK and Climbing For Christ members. Our bodies are weary, but mostly confused because Jakarta is 11 hours ahead of our time at home. So the late afternoon here was the early morning where we’ve come from. Max has a full schedule for us the rest of our stay, starting on Thursday with a tour and meetings at their church, Abbalove. We are blessed to be here and eager to be a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ – and those we pray will one day call us “brother.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 (3 p.m. Jakarta time)

We have arrived safely in Jakarta, where our JEJAK friends were waiting at the airport.  More to come later!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fact: A mere two percent of the Protestant missionary force is actively involved in evangelizing among 1.3 billion Muslims. William Miller, an American missionary to Persia (pre-1980 Iran), wrote in A Christian’s Response to Islam that “with some glorious exceptions, the Christians of the world have ... failed to obey Christ by sending laborers to sow and reap a harvest in Muslim lands.”

 

Ron Rhodes concludes in The 10 Things You Need to Know About Islam (required reading for Walter Casper IV and me before leaving today on Mission: Indonesia): “How heartbreaking to know that Muslims die every day, hoping that Allah might have mercy on them and bring them to paradise. The reality is that to believe in Allah is to believe in a false god. To believe that submission to Allah brings salvation is to believe in a false gospel. If we Christians really believe heaven is as wonderful as the Bible describes it, then shouldn’t that be motivation enough for each of us to share this wonderful good news with our Muslim acquaintances?”

 

Mission: Indonesia is an opportunity for us to speak, to teach, and to do outreach in a predominantly Muslim part of Southeast Asia. We will be visiting and working with members of Climbing For Christ who live in Jakarta, Indonesia; trekking in West Java to share Jesus with those who may never have heard His name; and participating in the first Asia-Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Dr. Yap Heng Kai of Singapore has organized the conference. I am blessed with an opportunity to present the opening keynote speech on “The Church, Outdoors.”

The Word

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
— Romans 10:14 (NIV)

 

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